NCTC Stages U.S. Premiere of FOR THE LOVE OF COMRADES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For the Love of Comrades

 

In September, New Conservatory Theatre Center opens its 2015-16 Season with the U.S. Premiere of For the Love of Comrades, the impassioned, gritty and inspiring new play by Micheál Kerrigan, with script development by Patricia Byrne and Mary Connors.

After a rapturous reception upon its Northern Ireland premiere in 2013 and subsequent U.K. tour on the 30th anniversary of the strike, the play uncovers the largely unknown but fascinating alliance between Welsh miners and the lesbian and gay community during the 1984 British Miner’s Strike, what would become the Lesbian and Gays Support the Minors (LGSM) campaign. (The captivating true events also inspired the 2014 film, Pride, which was developed alongside the play.) Kerrigan wrote his debut play from his own experiences as an Irish gay activist and a member of the LGSM Group, along with extensive archival research.

For the Love of Comrades runs tonight, September 4, through October 11, 2015. Opening Night is Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 8pm. Tickets are $25-45 and available at nctcsf.org or by calling (415) 861-8972.

“This is an untold story,” says Kerrigan, “Everyone remembers the strikes but few people knew of the gay community’s support for the miners. They play also looks at the parallels of the Northern Ireland situation, the miners’ strike and the struggle for gay rights.”

For the Love of Comrades was hailed by critics and embraced by central figures of the LGSM movement and those who lived through the historic events.

Mike Jackson, co-founder of LGSM proclaimed For the Love of Comrades a “masterpiece,” hailing its embrace of “so much important detail, so much historical truth, the pain and the joys.”

Playwright Micheál Kerrigan is a long-standing gay activist who was a member of the LGSM Group in the 1980s. With script development by Patricia Byrne and Mary Connors, Kerrigan was able to translate his life experiences into his first professional play. His extensive work as an activist includes organising the first ever Gay Pride March in Ireland in Dublin in 1973 and in 1993, the first Gay Pride Festival in Derry~Londonderry, where he currently lives.

Script Developer Patricia Byrne is a writer, performer and Artistic Director of Sole Purpose Productions. She has written six plays for Sole Purpose, including Don’t Say A Word which has been touring extensively throughout Ireland since 2004. It was staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2008 and was nominated for an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Other performance work includes The Peace Process Trilogy and The Recruiting Office by Dave Duggan. She has a BA Hons in Theatre and Media Studies and an MA in Film and Television Management and Policy from the University of Ulster.

Director Jeffrey Hoffman helmed Bay Area productions of How the Horn Ended You for Bindlestiff, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for Boxcar Theatre, Cat’s-Paw for Dragon Productions, History of the Devil for Ragged Wing Ensemble, and Cloud 9 and Walking the Dead for Theatre Q. Hoffman was a participant in Theatre Bay Area’s inaugural ATLAS for Directors program. Hoffman’s extensive acting experience includes many appearance at NCTC, including last season’s Compleat Female Stage Beauty.

The cast of features Miles Duffield, Stephen McFarland, Shane Fahy, Paul Rodriques, Alyssa Stone and Adam Odsess-Rubin.

The creative team of For the Love of Comrades includes scenic design by Devin Kasper, costume design by Corrida Carr, lighting & projection design by Christian Mejia, prop design by Adeline Smith, dialect coaching by Particia Reynoso.

New Conservatory Theatre Center is San Francisco’s premier LGBTQIA and allied performing arts institution and progressive arts education conservatory since 1981. NCTC is renowned for its diverse range of innovative, high quality productions, touring productions and shows for young audiences; its foundational anti-bullying work with youth and educators through YouthAware; and its commitment to nurturing emerging artists and playwrights to expand the canon of queer and allied dramatic work

The play that captures the fallout after Section 28

The play that captures the fallout after Section 28

We chat to the writer of Next Lesson

Most of you will be aware of Section 28, the piece of legislation brought in during the Thatcher government which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality. Many of you will have first hand experience of how it set back the LGBT rights movement and changed things for the worse.

For Chris Woodley, writer of Next Lesson, it was only too real revisiting these decades in history to create this semi-autobiographical play. As both a gay student throughout this time and a teacher in post-section-28 schools, he had the insight on the aftermath as well as the initial impact. We chatted to Chris about his life, the play and the future for him and LGBT education:

Tell us all about Next Lesson?

So Next Lesson is about Michael who is a gay student at a South East London school in Bromley. He then becomes an English teacher at the same school and it’s about the effect that his coming out has on that school and the parents and teachers in it. I would also say that around the main story of Michael there are other stories that we get to learn from other teachers, students and governors within the education system. It travels in time from 1988 all the way up until 2006.

Section 28 features quite heavily. Why was that such an important issue for you?

Growing up in Bromley in a 90s secondary school I was quite badly bullied and it had, I feel, a massive effect on me going through to adulthood. When I then became a teacher and went back to teaching in a secondary school in 2007 I was really curious about what sort of effect Section 28 had had on the education system as it was. So, for me it was kind of a cathartic way of putting those demons to bed and understanding what effect that policy has had on me and others similar to me in that time.

What’s the worst thing you’ve seen in your life in relation to this?

I think the hardest experience was – and to encapsulate how painful it is to think about these times – is a memory I have from English class. There were two boys talking and one of the teachers at the time turned around and said to them: “If you’re going to keep talking to each other like that, I think we’re all going to start to get a little bit worried about you” implying that they were flirting or that there was something other than just chatting going on between them.

He was almost using homophobia as behaviour management to sort of shame people. That’s without getting into hideous incidents of my own where people have sworn at me, spat at me, shoved me around, kicked me around, all of that. When I think back I think, if the experience is coming from the people who are meant to be taking care of you which is your teachers, it’s frightening.

That was your school experience. Do you think for schoolkids now, things have changed since the Thatcher years?

Absolutely, but there’s still so much more work to be done. There needs to be a better provision of sexual relationship education in our secondary school situation. There needs to be more of a dialogue about same sex relationships in sexual education or PHSE.

I still think it’s interesting about how different schools will deal with homophobia differently. If I was in a school and got called a “batty boy” by a student as a teacher, I’ve definitely experienced different ways in which schools would deal with that. The Thatcher years certainly left a muddled feeling after 2003 – when section 28 was finally repealed – about what we could and couldn’t talk about. When I started teaching I bowled up and insisted we do plays about sexuality. I would say some teachers were ok with that and some were curious as to why I was doing that, but I was really keen to get into secondary education and have some sense of visibility.

And then, what happened, being an openly gay teacher in a secondary school meant that within a year there were seven students that came out and felt much more like there was a positive role model that they could see. That was quite powerful.

From what your’e saying it all seems very autobiographical, what was it like putting it to paper?

I’m not going to lie I did fucking cry a lot, but I think getting the first draft written was incredibly difficult because I didn’t know how close to the bone to go with the events or experiences that had happened. It was actually harder seeing it live on stage being performed by incredible actors who were putting life and flesh into words that I had written about real incidents. That was actually harder. It was quite challenging to go back to those times and think about what I went through.

Even in gay-friendly industries like theatre, there can be internalised homophobia. Have you experienced anything like that?

I’ve been really lucky since I’ve left drama school and I would say at the theatre I worked at, they have embraced me as an actor and as a writer and supported me. I’ve not had my eyes open to those aspects of the industry because I’m only three years out of drama school but I’m certainly aware, especially on dating apps that there’s this kind of culture we have that masculinity is much more appealing than femininity.

But I think that I’ve always been like “this is me,’ you either accept it or you jog on”. In the acting industry I’m at a stage where my casting is gay best friend or a lot of camp American comedy and I enjoy that and that’s fine, but as a writer I like to write myself a role that isn’t about sexuality. This might not be something other casting directors think I may be capable of doing because they’ll only see me as a camp American or “gay guy”. I’d rather give myself the power to write a role that isn’t gay and do that.

You were in Ricky Gervais’ Extras as a rent-boy for Lionel Blair. What was that like?

That was amazing. It was a random thing where I got called up and, originally, they asked if I was happy to be seen as a gay character in Extras the new Ricky Gervais comedy. I was like absolutely, great. But I didn’t know until I turned up on the day that I was a stand-alone character. I thought I was going to be part of a group of chorus boys. What’s really weird is that even like ten years on people still text you and email you when it’s repeated like “was that you?”. I’m glad I haven’t aged too much in ten years!

What do you see for the future of LGBT education?

I think probably we might be going more towards a standstill, which is sad and disappointing. I would really hope that we could move forward. I’m sort of at the grassroots of it trying to fight the homophobia that I see among students but outside of that creatively it’s things like writing this play. That’s my contribution to that to try and raise awareness.

In 2006 when I was doing my PGCE I did a research project in a London school and I was comparing homophobic abuse to racial abuse within the secondary education system. It was off the scale in terms of the type of language and the bullying that those students would see. That’s the reality of where we’re at.

Tell us what you’re up to next?

With Next Lesson, we go back into rehearsal in October, then we’ll have the full run at the Pleasance Islington from the 20 to 25 October. There’ll be a post-show talk on one of those evenings, which is very exciting. We’re hoping that it has another life possibly in school or across other theatres.

I’ve also written two more plays. The second is called Jody Loch and the Three Bears that looks at gay adoption. It’s about two gay guys that adopt a child and the impact it has on their relationship. Then the third one’s called The Soft Subject that looks at whether drama GCSE has a place or relevance in the education system.

Tickets are available for Next Lesson here. Updates will be posted on Chris’s Twitter.

Words Jessica Lindsay, @jesswritesgood

Tommy at Greenwich Theatre

 

Review: Tommy at Greenwich Theatre

He’s a pinball wizard…

From Barry Manilow lyrics to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s furry feline friends, there have certainly been some interesting choices of topic for our glitzy musical theatre. No more so than rock musical Tommy, currently playing at the Greenwich Theatre, London. The show takes its deaf, dumb and blind protagonist from The Who’s classic Pinball Wizard and produces their formidable Tommy album live on stage.

Hitting the theatres way before the likes of American Idiot or Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy was a groundbreaking piece in its original form and is now given a fresh and exciting revival by Michael Strassen. Slightly put back at first, we soon got used to the unique style of this production and we were toe tapping away and rooting for Ashley Birchall’s endearing Tommy long before the midway cocktail run.

Stylish and slick, Strassen places the story in a white wash wonderland reminiscent of 70s glam rock that could also be a timeless dystopian future. Complimenting the musical underscore to great effect, Strassen tells this obscure story clearly and fluidly with the help of the functional design and sparky cast.

The small ensemble of performers brought energy in abundance and soared through the roof with some fantastic rock vocals. Smaller moments worth mentioning include Carly Burn’s sensational Acid Queen and James Sinclair as Captain Walker, providing gravitas beyond his years. Nevertheless, all the cast had time to shine in Mark Smith’s show stopping choreography. Drawing on a Fosse inspired style, Smith’s work compliments the narrative, aiding the story whilst giving ample room for entertainment and joyous fun. The cast executed his technical movement brilliantly, keeping us truly engaged in those longer musical breaks.

Credit is also due to the band doing sufficient justice to The Who and bringing the house down to the very last note. Very rarely do we see an audience staying until the end of the play-out, let alone on their feet clapping, dancing and cheering like we’re at Wembley. But with the talent and energy on stage, rest assured we could have been!

Ticket information for Tommy can be found here.

GT gives Tommy – 4/5

Words Tom Cox


Barely Methodical Troupe's macho circus show is much fun

Editorial:  This troupe was spotted by our roving reported in London, Sean McGouran, and we all know how discerning he can be.  If you see them in a theatre near you, then he heartily recommends that you go and see them.

 

Barely Methodical Troupe's Bromance-2

Barely Methodical Troupe’s Bromance-2

 

Jay Z and Kanye West; Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart; Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller: a bromance can be a beautiful thing. And it’s most definitely working for new circus trio Barely Methodical Troupe who, in their first show, take platonic man love to a new acrobatic level.

But does three make a crowd? The company riff on that possibility in this high-fun, low-key piece, which mixes goofy clowning and pared-back-but-astonishing circus skills. Each performer has their own quirky characters: there’s the big, muscleman (Louis Gift); the small cheeky one (Beren D’Amico); and the hopefull odd-one-out (Charlie Wheeller). Over the hour-long ‘Bromance’ we see them vying for each other’s (and our) attention by stupid dancing, kooky double takes and shows of impressive (and sometimes deliberately much less impressive) machismo.

Within all that are some smooth, startling sequences of pure acrobatics which mix free-running, pure contemporary dance and lots of lifts, throws and balancing acts set to music. Wheeller swoops on the cyr wheel – a huge hoop that he stands within and swings around the stage – D’Amico and Gift perform some gobsmackingly low and stomach-churningly high throws. They work hand-to-hand, body to body twisting and turning with grace, agility and much humour.

Recent graduates from The Circus Space in Hoxton, Barely Methodical’s acrobatic skills are clearly strong. But it’s the whole package – the down-to-earth performance style and the peacock prancing – that make ‘Bromance’ one of the most charming circus shows. They are the stupid but sweet guys you knew at school, boys just mucking about, men behaving badly, except here they are genuinely entertaining. Jay Z and Kanye’s love-in may be cute, but Barely Methodical Troupe’s ‘Bromance’ is where the buddy action is really at.

 

Venue name: Udderbelly
Contact:
Address: Jubilee Gardens
off Belvedere Rd
London
SE1 8XX
Transport: Tube: Waterloo
Price: £15.50-£17.50, £14-£16 concs
Barely Methodical Troupe's Bromance-1

Barely Methodical Troupe’s Bromance-1

Beckenham playwright Chris Woodley's Next Lesson tackles Thatcher's controversial Section 28 anti-gay law

News Shopperby Jim Palmer, leisure editor Last updated 13:04 Wednesday 24 June 2015

 


News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by Jim Palmer, leisure editor
A Beckenham dramatist has won rave reviews for his play about controversial legislation which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Chris Woodley’s Next Lesson looks at the affects of Thatcher’s notorious Section 28, which came into force in 1988 and was not repealed until 2003.

It is a portrait of a south London secondary school and focuses on Michael, a gay student, from his first day in 1988 through to becoming a teacher at the school.

When it debuted at The Pleasance Theatre in April, Gay Times gave Next Lesson a five star review.
The topic was an important one for Chris to write about.

The 33-year-old said: “Section 28 has had a huge effect on many LGBT young people at that time who simply couldn’t talk about who they were and what they felt in school. It’s heart breaking.

“The repeal of Section 28 came incredibly late and I feel it left a really confused feeling in our education system about what could and could not be discussed in schools.

“Even today the way in which we deliver Sex and Relationship Education in this country needs to be addressed; without open and honest conversations about SRE we are at risk of failing LGBT young people.”

The play’s subject is one that Chris knows well: before he turned to theatre full time hewas a drama teacher for six years.

He said: “When I was teenager I was very badly bullied during the time this legislation was in power.

“So as an adult in my twenties it was quite a moment to return to Bromley as an out gay teacher and see what had and hadn’t changed in the education system.”

He added: “People often think that the central figure in the play Michael is based on me, when in fact the smaller stories around Michael’s journey are loosely based on personal events.

“Nearly every scene has a character or a plot line that is taken from my life as a student or teacher.

“Aspects of the story have to be changed to protect the innocent. The scene that’s most personal is the scene in particular where a Head of Drama is challenged by a parent about directing a play with gay characters in it.”

Chris grew up in Beckenham and attended Marian Vian Primary School then Langley Park School for Boys.

He said: “Langley wasn’t the best place for a gay teenager growing up in the nineties so I left Langley after my GCSEs and went to The BRIT School.

“The BRIT School was and still is the most outstanding school for anyone that wants to get into a creative industry.

“It brought me back to life after quite a tough time at school. On the opening night of the show my first drama teacher from Marian Vian attended and the Principal of BRIT School, it was lovely to have such incredible support.”

Perhaps it’s unsurprising given his strong links to the area, but Chris made sure Next Lesson was firmly rooted in the borough.

He said: “I really wanted the play to have a strong geographical identity so Next Lesson has lots of references to Bromley.

“There are references that include Beckenham War Memorial, The Churchill Theatre even News Shopper gets a mention.”

Hyphen Theatre Company present Next Lesson written by Chris Woodley on at The Pleasance Islington in October 2015. Go to hyphentheatre.com

The Actors Who Trapped Gay Men Into Having Illegal Sex

In 1914, two actors helped California police entrap gay men having sex. A brilliant off-Broadway play imagines their own charged, dark relationship.

Brilliant new play about gay entrapment in 1914

Courtesy of O+M co.

Two actors, Brown and Warren, share a room waiting to be called to an audition. The room has a trunk in it, two chairs, and a rack of clothes, which look fluttering and feminine. The audition never happens; the men’s story—how they came to be employed by the Long Beach Police Department to entrap men who had sex with men—is to be the performance we watch.

The roots of Tom Jacobson’s play, The Twentieth-Century Way, are true: in 1914 there really were two actors named W.H. Warren and B.C. Brown hired as “vice specialists” by the police—“the first instance on record of Southern California police entrapment of homosexuals,” as Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons put it in their book, Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians.

Brown had delicate features, Warren was rugged; they were hired because, write Faderman and Timmons, their looks would appeal to gay men of all tastes to come on to them in restrooms, or changing rooms of bath-houses.

The book inspired Jacobson—by day, Senior Vice President of Advancement at L.A.’s Natural History Museum—to not only imagine who these men might have been (details of their lives are scant), but to imagine them at work entrapping gay men.

The two would encourage their targets to show their penises through ‘glory holes’ between walls or stalls, after which they would score a cross on the men’s penises with a permanent marker. The men and their marked penises, indicative of their ‘guilt,’ would then be hauled down to the police station, and the men would be prosecuted for ‘social vagrancy.’

In the play this ugly vocation bleeds into Warren and Brown’s relationship with each other, Brown vocalizing a hive of moral and ethical quandaries about the men’s lives they are helping destroy.

Between the two men also blooms desire and, perhaps, love—but not before Warren has beaten up, confused, aroused, and humiliated Brown.

“It’s a power play,” Jacobson tells The Daily Beast. “What does it mean to be a ‘top’ (a term meaning the active sexual partner) socially for these men, and what happens when the ‘bottom’ (passive partner) tops the top. It’s like the play says, ‘Any time two men meet, it’s a contest.’ Maybe it’s the same for women. Men can’t help it. They have an encounter, which isn’t necessarily sexual, and decide who’s the top and who’s the bottom—with both vying to be the top.”

Unlike its two actors, Jacobson sees the play, at its heart, as a love story between two closeted gay men. “Who would do this as a job? Why pay so much attention to ‘vice’ and ‘social vagrancy’? It’s the same today: I’m never surprised when those most obsessed with homosexuality, who are the most anti-gay, turn out to be gay themselves.”

“I may not be a gay man, but that doesn’t mean I can’t understand what it is to long, love, or try and understand these men’s struggles.”
The performances of Robert Mammana (Warren) and Will Bradley (Brown) are virtuosic: they not only play the actors, but also the victims of their entrapment who include a brave florist (played by Mammana, the actor’s favorite character and the utter flipside to the villainous Warren) and a gentle Scotsman played by Bradley.

At the end, Mammana and Bradley, who have played the characters for five years in different productions, eventually play themselves.

“One of the things I’ve always loved about acting is its virtuosity,” says Jacobson. “I love actors, and the variety of things that they can do.”

The actors, under director Michael Michetti, switch between scenes and characters in a racing polyphony: indeed Mammana likens it to preparing for a race—the only way to rehearse and get it right was to break the play up into pieces and stitch it together.

Every night he has “the bubbling fear” that he will forget a line (he says he skipped a section the night I was there, but he covered so adeptly the audience was none the wiser).

One night he had to clear his throat, but was concerned to do so in case it impacted the rhythm of his words, and intensity of performance.

“The freedom of relaxation doesn’t exist for 92 minutes,” he says, correctly—and that goes for the audience too. Warren’s sense of menace and threat is rumbling and ever-present; Brown is handcuffed, stripped, molested, thrown about, and verbally abused—until the tables intriguingly turn. It’s a dazzling play about domination, submission, the closet, persecution, love, and performance in all its definitions.
Jacobson imagines Warren as sociopathic and cruel set against the more sympathetic Brown whose goodness might be the key if not to save Warren, then at least to partially redeem him. Brown is Warren’s trigger to find out who he really is, thinks Mammana, digging deeper and pushing him further.

“I see him as a cornered animal,” says Mammana of Warren. “I find people like that fascinating. You’re never quite sure where you stand with them. A lot of how he behaves comes from his loneliness and fear, and he will lash out at Brown or anyone. I see him as a scared little boy looking for love, and a playmate and brother.”

Neither Mammana nor Bradley think the story is one of two closeted gay men living lives of dual torment, then tormenting others, before finding love with each other. Certainly the play suggests we are all actors of some kind in the carnival of life we participate in every day.

Both Warren and Brown seem to understand their apparent homosexuality at some points, then be in denial of it, retreat from it, or just unaware of it.

That Mammana and Bradley also play the men the actors entrap makes its own point about slippery identity, and the multitudes we contain.

The story is personal to Mammana: he was a policeman from 2002-2006 in Glendale, California. “I did arrest people. I don’t understand the point of police work unless it’s to get your hands dirty,” he says.

He was unaware of the history of entrapment of men who have sex with men by police. Having performed the play has made Mammana aware that while the officers may have believed in what they were doing, it was also “morally reprehensible” for them to do so. “It was a really bad law, and they’re still creating bad laws today.”

Mammana left the police, frustrated “that you were required to have a lack of empathy to do a very difficult job. People were being sent to jail for silly things. My heart was not in it. I had to watch this revolving door of the justice system, which while not broken was very, very damaged—although I have the utmost respect for officers who do their jobs well.”

Both Mammana and Bradley are straight, and the former says he finds The Twentieth-Century Way “larger than my sexuality and the question of my sexuality. It’s about longings, combating and controlling our fears. To me, it’s less about him being gay, and more about what is beneficial to him in that moment. The play is about truth, and accepting the truth of each other—whatever that is.”

Fun Home, Mammana says, “is not my story. I’m not a lesbian cartoonist who had a father who killed himself because he couldn’t come out. But it’s a really good musical that reaches out to everyone. I hope the same is true for our play—you don’t have to be like the men in the play in any way to feel for them. I may not be a gay man, but that doesn’t mean I can’t understand what it is to long, love, or try and understand these men’s struggles.”

For Bradley, while “oppression and sexual identity is central to the play,” he sees it as a story of two different kinds of people, “one full of hate, violence and bitterness (Warren), and the other (Bradley) who takes all that deceit and rage and turns it into something beautiful. It’s also about the power of acting and performance.”

“Yes, doing this play is intense,” he laughs. “Robert Mammana is an ex-cop, and very good with the handcuffs. I’m yelled at, molested, stripped, have my pants pulled down, and thrown around—even if it’s pretend it does have an effect on you. It’s impossible not to be changed every time you do it.”

It’s also hard, even as an actor, to be beaten up and shouted at every night, says Bradley. But Bradley recalls Willem Dafoe electing to carry a heavy cross while filming The Last Temptation of Christ rather than a light one, on the basis that—as Bradley puts it—“then you don’t have to worry about acting.” He feels the same way about getting worked over on stage: it helps make both men’s characters seem as real as possible.

Mammana tells me he throws Bradley around at different moments to keep the element of surprise, and both men on edge and performances fresh.

Even though Bradley should have more bruises, it’s Mammana who broke his hand throwing a chair one night. Warren always wants to go further, to play harder, perform more.

But, as Mammana says, “we don’t want you to leave the theater feeling safe and comfortable. This story really happened. It’s still happening. And it happened to the actors in front of you.” The play ends with nudity and a moment of intimacy, and the notion that there is no more hiding—for anyone. “It’s a complicated moment,” says Mammana. “The idea of Will and I kissing one another is not something we’d venture to do in our daily lives. But we are most absolutely our characters at that moment in the play.”

If The Twentieth-Century Way can do anything positive it would be to remind LGBT people of their history, says Jacobson, who—fascinated by history himself—is currently working on another play centered around priests and the mysterious deaths of boys at what was L.A.’s Bimini Baths spa in the early 1900s.

“I don’t think young people have a sense of that history,” the playwright says. “I hope people relate to the characters in the play across the generations. Warren and Brown are not heroes. They are heinous, but within them and the other characters, I hope people see someone like themselves.”

The Twentieth-Century Way is at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, New York, until July 19: book online or on 866-811-4111

Duncan James joins cast of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert

A cock, in a frock, on a rock…

Former member of pop band Blue Duncan James is to join the upcoming UK tour of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert.

The singer is no stranger to the stage, having appeared previously opposite Sheridan Smith in Legally Blonde – The Musical in London’s West End.

James shares his role with Australia’s very own Jason Donovan in certain venues.

Based on the film of the same name, Priscilla follows the lives of three drag queens that embark on a road trip across the Australian outback.

The show features songs including It’s Raining Men, Hot Stuff, I Will Survive, Say A Little Prayer, Finally amongst many others.

Tour opens at Manchester’s Opera House on 14 August. Ticket information, touring locations and when Duncan James will be appearing in the show, can be found here.

Words William J Connolly, @wjconnolly

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) [DVD]Click picture to be taken to Amazon to buy the DVD

Lord Cashman Lends Support To Play Which Tackles Sexual Abuse

Lord Cashman Lends Support To Play Which Tackles Sexual Abuse And Cover Ups
By The Gay UK, Jun 3 2015 09:00AM

 

The cast of a new play called At Ease will be joined by Lord Michael Cashman, on Friday 5 June, during rehersals to lend his support to the play which tackles the issues surrounding historic sexual abuse and cover-ups.

Credit: Google Maps

Credit: Google Maps

Victims of historical physical and sexual army abuse are given a voice in a new play in rehearsal in Birmingham.

Lord Cashman appears as a character in the play.

At the centre of this highly unusual play is the correspondence between one-time Household Cavalryman, Alex Rees who was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempted murder, and Michael (Lord) Cashman, who was an intended target. Rees writes he was brutally tortured and raped while in the army in the 1970s. Rees, who died in 2002, identifies adults involved in the bullying and in the parties in which abuse took place. He also identifies army personnel involved in cover-ups. Rees is, at last, given an opportunity to put his story to the public via his extraordinary correspondence.

The bond between Rees and Cashman, a life-long campaigner for LGBT rights, is both strange and poignant.

In an attempt to right some wrongs, while contributing to the present debate around historical abuse by giving voice to Rees and others, theatre company DD Arts Birmingham is piloting its new play, AT EASE, from June 17, raising these issues, together with other contemporaneous accounts.

Pilot performances 17-20 June: Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham. 0121 200 0946.

An Afternoon with James Dawson

An Afternoon with James Dawson
22 June 2015, 1pm-4pm
Canada Room, Lanyon Building

jamesSpend an afternoon with James Dawson, voted Queen of Teen 2014 by The Book People.  James is a prolific and award winning fiction author who tackles puberty, sex and relationships in a frank and funny fashion.  The afternoon’s programme also includes lunch and presentations by Professor Alan Thurston of the Centre for Effective Education and  Dr Dirk Schubotz, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work.

If you wish to attend please RSVP by Friday 12 June to kathryn.anderson@booktrust.org.uk

 

James Dawson Website

All male Romeo and Juliet comes to London

Editorial:  If you are on holiday in London during July or August then this production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet looks like it will be worthwhile going to see.  If you do then please let us know what you thought of the production.

Chapel Lane Theatre Company brings it five-star adaptation to the capital

This summer, Chapel Lane Theatre Company is bringing its five-star, all male adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet to London.

Shakespeare’s R&J is a modern script by American playwright Joe Calarco which centres on four schoolboys and their lives in a strict religious boarding school. One evening after classes, the students come across an old copy of Romeo and Juliet and begin to read the play to each other. As the evening progresses the boys become more and more immersed in the text and the characters, and the play becomes about the boys and their voyage of self discovery through the Bard’s famous words.

The boys explore their relationships with each other and, particularly for Student 1 (Romeo), his love for Student 2 (Juliet). These two young men, fully absorbed, begin to realise how their feelings parallel the relationship between the “star crossed lovers” in Shakespeare’s text. It is revelatory for them having been in such an oppressive environment all of their lives to see that their love is not as abnormal as they thought.

Bearing witness to this blossoming relationship is Student 3 (Mercutio) who also has feelings for Student 1. The play not only explores the relationship between Romeo and Juliet (and its relevance to the boys) but also the emotional conflict of Student 3 at seeing his schoolmates together. This is extenuated by the other role taken by Student 3 – the friar. In Shakespeare’s text the friar is supportive of Romeo and his relationship and actively helps his friend. Thus we see the internal turmoil of Student 3 exposed perfectly; on the one hand he wants Student 1 for himself, but on the other he wants to help his friend to be happy with who he is.

Student 4 (the Nurse), uneasy with the relationship but counselling Student 2’s Juliet, adopts a homophobic stance towards Student 1 and also takes on the role of Tybalt, Romeo’s sworn enemy. The violence of the conflict between Student 1 and Student 4 is an all too familiar sight in today’s world where homosexuality is still not full accepted.

Shakespeare’s R&J runs at the Tabard Theatre, London W4 from June 30th to August 8th 2015. Easy access via Turnham Green Station (District Line). Tickets £17/£15 .

Tickets are available from the Tabard Theatre Box Office.
Telephone: 0208 995 6035
Or online at: Tabard Theatre

This production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited.

Twitter: @ChapelLaneTC #RandJ2015

Facebook: Chapel Lane Theatre Company